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Riding the Cress

Superfood: Watercress is riding a wave of popularity

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ATTRIBUTES Just when you thought you couldn't stomach another forkful of kale, along comes watercress, riding a wave of popularity after being shunned as a "poor man's food' for a hundred years. Watercress is a member of the notoriously nutritious cruciferous band of veggies — broccoli, arugula and Brussels sprouts are cousins.

SUPER POWERS Watercress delivers 25 percent or more of your daily requirements of vitamins K, C, and A, as well as compounds that have been shown to slow progression of cancer, lower blood pressure and help maintain healthy bones, for less than 5 calories per cup.

WEAKNESSES Although every little bit helps, you'll need to eat more than a garnish-size serving for significant nutrition. Watercress is high in nitrates and may interact with medications used for cardiovascular disease. Also, suddenly eating more vitamin K may interact with blood-thinning medications.

HOW TO USE IT Historically, it wasn't uncommon to eat a handful of watercress, the way you might eat an apple today. For more flair, toss one cup of packed leaves into your favorite potato leek soup about five minutes before the veggies are done. Finish cooking, then purée soup. Garnish with a dollop of cream or plain yogurt and a few fresh leaves.

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